I'm going on holiday to Kent in a few weeks and noticed on Ebay that there is a Zither banjo near where I am staying.  I wondered what you make of the condition of the fretboard - the inlays are good but the fretboard looks 'dry' in places - would it just need oiling or would it need more work?  Again I am blaming Rob MacKillop for my interest.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5-string-zither-banjo-by-George-Houghton...

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Ohhhh. I'll have that! Take a hundred-pound note and let the seller smell of it...

I would oil the fretboard and start playing it. It is lovely!

Really, I don't mind a crack or two in the fretboard. Get it home and let it stabilize to its new environment. Keep an eye on it. If the crack really bothers you, it can be filled with stuff like black superglue (or ebony dust mixed with superglue) and then scraped level. A good luthier can make it all but invisible.

Ha! I get blamed for a lot of things, not all of them this good. I must say I'm enjoying my zither this time round. 

Before I bought mine on eBay I had a good look at "yours", and almost bought it. The countdown started on the Temlett, so I thought if I don't win it, I'll go for the Houghton. Well, I won the Temlett for £134, and am pleased with it, though I would have been equally pleased with the Houghton. 

That said, it would be advantageous to go and see it, and if possible play it. You can get fretboard oil which would make a big difference. I wouldn't worry too much about the crack in the fretboard - I've had such things before, and they did not cause a problem. Once cleaned up, and with good strings (gut or nylon for the 3rd, and a wound 4th) it will be a fine ZB, I think. But you need to check it out first. Make sure the tuners work, and that you can play in tune up the neck.

I've just remembered that I dropped the seller a message, asking if they would post to Edinburgh. The reply was not entirely positive or negative, and I think they were going to wait to see how long it would take to sell. 

Keep us posted!

It does look a very nice banjo, but I would not oil it and then decide to have the crack filled or the oil residue may cause the filler not to adhere. My advice fill the crack and THEN oil the fingerboard and it will look as good as new!

Spot on. Take it home, let it rest, make the decision.

Or, you could take it home and post it to me. I'd be very happy, I assure you!

thereallyniceman said:

It does look a very nice banjo, but I would not oil it and then decide to have the crack filled or the oil residue may cause the filler not to adhere. My advice fill the crack and THEN oil the fingerboard and it will look as good as new!

I wouldn't worry about the fingerboard at all.  I don't see how you can go wrong. The asking price is low and the seller is open to offers.   The neck wood is beautiful.  Is it English Walnut?  It seems a bit light colored for that but maybe the photo makes it appear so.  I can't tell for sure but most of the frets appear to be pristine. I don't think this banjo was ever fingered above the 5th fret.

Thank you Rob, Marc, Ian and Jody for your replies.  The information about the fingerboard is helpful - would you advise black superglue to fill the crack as Marc suggests and then treat with with lemon oil?  Well, the patent says 'unwarpable' so the neck should be straight!  I will let you know what happens...

Well, I put in an offer and went up to 250.00 but it was auto declined.  I am going to pause before doing anything else.  Right, off to make dinner...

That's annoying. It has been on there for over three weeks, so they should be getting nervous. Keep adding £10.00 until they allow it to go through. Then they have 24 hours or so to accept or decline. I imagine they'll accept. But you never know.

Thanks Rob - I can't make any more offers so have put a bid in and will watch this space! I think it runs until Friday.

If you google "Fingerboard Crack Repair", you'll find a good half dozen articles on how its done professionally. It is an easy process...but maybe a little advanced to get it perfected. Just depends on how perfect you need it to look.

Sellers can be a mess. Ebay has a default "make offer" in their process and sellers often sidestep it by having it auto-reject to the minimum bid price. Silly. When I run across that, I often never come back to that sale (unless it is something as lovely as that ZB).

Thanks Marc - I will check that out.  

Yes, Ebay can be hard to read - when I saw 'make offer' I thought they would be open to lower offers.  

Sometimes sellers can be a little unrealistic (this needs to go in the bin!):  https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ellis-Thorough-School-For-Banjo-By-Herbe...

Haha. Bin is a bit harsh, but you are probably right, Carrie. 

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